December 2006

The Mambo Q Orchestra
December 15, 2006 Lula Lounge Toronto
Everything’s Coming Up Mambo
by Joyce Corbett — Photos by Roger Humbert
Lula Lounge was packed to the gills with office Christmas party clients on Friday night — that time of year again, although with the mild temperatures in Toronto lately, it is hard to believe. The audience was in high spirits, a little too much so for the opening Hilario Duran Trio (Hilario Duran, piano; Roberto Occhipinti, bass; Mark Kelso, drums) who played a wonderful set despite the din of dining and conversation that included shouting from one table to another. The Trio did however, have an attentive audience seated on chairs set out on the floor in front of the stage. Near the end of their set, they joked with the "music lovers”. “Let’s see who’s paying attention”, said bassist Roberto Occhipinti. “After this, there will be a dance lesson. After this, there will be a dance lesson with strippers — no discernible reaction. O.K., after this, there will be a dance lesson with male strippers — no reaction. O.K. after this, there will be a dance lesson with transvestite strippers (pause) and male strippers and female strippers. There will be a strip show!” The audience on the floor was laughing and a few people at the tables turned their heads.

When the dance lesson did start, minus the strippers, there was a very high level of participation. And when the thirteen-piece plus Mambo Q Orchestra led by Roberto Occhipinti headed into their first tune, “Ran Kan Kan”, the dance floor was full. After that Tito Puente classic, the band moved on to instrumental versions of such hit mambos as the Rolling Stones' “Satisfaction”, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” and the Young Rascals’ “Groovin”. After “Get Back” we took a “Magic Carpet Ride” through time to Benny Moré’s “El Canonero”, sung with style and strength by Alberto Alberto. Two Christmas classics found their way into the mix along the way, “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, featuring Alberto Alberto on vocals with back-up vocals by Yailen Duran. Particularly resonant with some of the audience was Los Van Van’s “Te Pone La Cabeza Mala” as that band had just played in Toronto the previous Saturday night. Finishing off the night was “Timba Mabo”, written by Hilario Duran and Changuito.

The band had a lot of fun with this material and so did the audience who danced the night through. It was “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Roberto Occhipinti
Mambo Q Orchestra
Roberto Occhipinti – bass
Hilario Duran – piano
Mark Kelso – drums
Chendy Leon – timbales
Papiosko – congas
Alexis Baro, Alexander Brown, Jason Logue – trumpet
Luis Denis – alto sax
Perry White – tenor sax
Pol Cousee – baritone sax
William Carn, Gord Myers – trombone
Special guest vocalist – Alberto Alberto
Special guest back-up vocals – Yailen Duran
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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